What happened at the Statehouse this week

On Tuesday, S.C. lawmakers returned to Columbia for the final special session of the summer, but the legislative year is not quite over.  

Aside from issuing a plethora of congratulatory resolutions – including those for South Carolina pageant winners, a steel manufacturing company, and a retiring S.C. Senate staffer – lawmakers used the day to override most of the governor’s budget vetoes. Of the $152.5 million in earmark spending vetoed by the governor, the General Assembly agreed to remove just $14. 

The budget, which went into effect July 1, also contains a handful of provisos that increase legislative power, including one that adds the House speaker and Senate president to the Coordinating Council for Economic Development (CCED) – a board managed by the Department of Commerce that is primarily engaged in awarding grants for a broad range of economic development projects.  

To lead the department, the Senate this week confirmed Harry Lightsey III, a former telecommunications executive, to replace retiring S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. Under state law, the secretary serves as chairman of the CCED. The Senate also confirmed former S.C. House member and U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy to serve as chairman of the Santee Cooper Board of Directors. 

While no official dates have been set, the General Assembly is expected to reconvene sometime during the fall, at which point it will take up legislation dealing with redistricting. According to The Nerve, the body also has plans to spend proceeds from a $600 million plutonium settlement, which, according to one lawmaker, could occur during September. At this time, it is unclear whether these two matters will be dealt with during a single legislative session.